Discover the highlights of the Caucasus and Central Asia on this 34-day overland group adventure from Tbilisi to Tashkent. Explore the impressive Vardzia cave city in Georgia, discover ancient Yerevan in Armenia and stay in a Silk Road caravanserai in Azerbaijan. Cross the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan and explore the bizarre capital of Ashgabat then visit the Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, enjoying a night in a traditional yurt in the desert.
Welcome to Georgia! On arrival in Tbilisi you can make your way to our start hotel and there’s a pre-departure Welcome Meeting at 18:00. The evening is then free for you to explore Georgia’s charming capital at leisure.
Today we take in the main sites of Tbilisi’s delightful and historic Old Town, visiting the fascinating National Museum, the Sioni Cathedral and Metekhi Temple, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the Mtkvari River. Optional activities later today include a trip to the Museum of Soviet Occupation, and you can walk up to the ancient Narikala Fortress for free to take in the incredible views of the city below.
Overnight: Tbilisi | Breakfast
Dilijan National Park & Lake Sevan
Tbilisi - Lake Sevan (Armenia). Climb aboard our overland expedition truck for the first time today as we say goodbye to Tbilisi and head into neighbouring Armenia. After the border crossing, we’ll drive through the picturesque scenery of Dilijan National Park and may choose to camp somewhere in the park. Alternatively, we’ll continue to shimmering Lake Sevan, home to landlocked Armenia’s only beaches. We’ll camp near the shore of the lake.
Overnight: Dilijan NP / Lake Sevan | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lake Sevan - Yerevan. We set off this morning for the ancient city of Yerevan, one of the oldest continuously inhabited human settlements in the world. En route we’ll pay a visit to the impressive UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, which was carved from the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. Stop at the Graeco-Roman Garni Temple before finally arriving in Yerevan, where there’s free time to explore and an optional visit to the Ararat Brandy Museum during our stay.
Khor Virap Monastery & the Armenian Highlands
Yerevan - Armenian Highlands. Today we leave Yerevan and head into the remote Armenian Highlands. There’s a stop near the Turkish border at the Khor Virap Monastery, an important pilgrimage site in the shadow of towering Mt Ararat. On a clear day you’ll have fantastic views of this snow-capped peak. Tonight, we wild camp in the scenic Armenian Highlands.
Overnight: Armenian Highlands | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Armenian Highlands - Vardzia (Georgia). Today we cross back into Georgia and drive to the incredible Vardzia Caves. This subterranean city was built to protect medieval Georgians from invading Mongol hordes. Though mostly abandoned in the 16th century, the monastery in the well-preserved complex is still inhabited by a handful of dedicated monks and you'll be able to hear the bells ringing at 07:00.
We explore the caves either today or tomorrow morning and enjoy a night of wild camping close by.
Overnight: Vardzia | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Borjomi National Park & Mtskheta
Vardzia - Mtskheta. We explore the incredible Vardzia Caves if there wasn’t time yesterday, then make our way to Borjomi National Park. There’s time for a hike in the forest and you may wish to ride the cable car up the mountain. We then complete our journey to Mtskheta where we’ll discover the pretty Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Overnight: Mtskheta | Breakfast, Dinner
Mtskheta - Stepantsminda. Today we drive to Stepantsminda, a town surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. During our stay in the town we’ll trek up to the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church, which is nestled in the hilly scenery. There’s also an optional Georgian cooking lesson where you can create delicious kinkhalis - Georgian meatballs.
Overnight: Stepantsminda | Breakfast, Dinner
Telavi & wine tasting
Stepantsminda - Telavi. We journey to the wine-making region of Telavi on day 10 and spend the next two days exploring the area. Nearly every village in the region grows its own variety of grape and we’ll visit some local vineyards to watch aspects of the wine production process in action, including grape harvesting. On day 11 we enjoy lunch and wine tasting at a local winery, where we’ll experience some traditional Georgian hospitality.
Overnight: Telavi | Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2
Gremi Citadel & Lagodekhi National Park
Telavi - Lagodekhi NP. Today we visit the ancient Gremi Citadel and journey into Lagodekhi National Park. Tonight, we’ll wild camp in the park, close to the border with Azerbaijan. Opt for a stroll through the park from our camping spot.
Overnight: Lagodekhi NP | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sheki & caravanserai stay
Lagodekhi NP - Sheki (Azerbaijan). Say goodbye to Georgia today as we cross into the resource-rich country of Azerbaijan. We’ll drive to Sheki and visit the beautiful Khan’s Palace before arriving at our accommodation for the night. There’s a real treat in store as we stay in a hotel built inside an old Silk Road caravanserai, where weary merchants used to stop for a rest and to resupply their caravans.
Overnight: Sheki (Caravanserai)
Sheki - Lahij. Today we drive into the mountains to visit the small village of Lahij, which is known for its coppersmiths and arms production. We stay at a campsite with facilities close to the village tonight.
Overnight: Lahij | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Gobustan & Baku
Lahij - Baku. On day 15 we visit Gobustan to see the ancient petroglyphs and bubbling mud volcanoes that the region is known for. Later we’ll arrive in bustling Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The city is a wonderful contrast, with ancient sites such as the Maiden Tower and the glistening skyscrapers that are a symbol of Azerbaijan’s growing prosperity, largely generated from oil.
At some point in the next couple of days we’ll take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. However, the ferry timetable is notoriously unpredictable so our itinerary will have to be extremely flexible over the next few days. Please see the trip notes for more details. In the meantime, relax in vibrant Baku and explore as you please. We may be joined by new travellers for the next leg of our journey.
Caspian Sea ferry crossing
Baku - Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan). Today we will hopefully be able to board the overnight ferry bound for Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. The ferry crossing is a fantastic and authentic experience but please don’t expect too much luxury! The crossing is an overnight journey but please note that there will generally only be seats available for the overnight crossing.
Overnight: Caspian Sea ferry
Today the ferry will hopefully dock in Turkmenbashi. Depending on timings we'll either stay at a local hotel in Turkmenbashi or begin our drive towards Ashgabat, finding a suitable spot to wild camp.
Please note: Due to the unpredictability of the ferry, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least two 'flexible' days before the entry date given on the tour.
Overnight: Turkmenbashi OR wild camping
Turkmenbashi - Ashgabat. Day 19 is a travel day as we drive to Turkmenistan’s capital city, Ashgabat. Ashgabat is like nowhere else on the globe with its bizarre marble architecture, plethora of golden statues and unique attractions including the world’s largest indoor Ferris Wheel. On day 20 we enjoy a guided minibus tour of the city. New travellers may join us in Ashgabat for the next leg of our journey into Uzbekistan.
Overnight: Ashgabat | Breakfast x 2
The flaming Darvaza Gas Crater
Ashgabat - Darvaza. Driving north from Ashgabat, we head into the wild Karakum Desert and stop to admire the incredible Darvaza Gas Crater, known by the locals as the “Door to Hell”. These never-ending fires in the middle of the desert were created in 1971 when Soviet oil drillers accidentally caused the ground to collapse and gas to be released. They tried setting fire to the gas to burn it all off and it has been burning away ever since. After we’ve admired this unusual site we’ll find a spot to camp near the crater.
Overnight: Darvaza | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Darvaza - Kunye Urgench. Our drive across the Karakum Desert continues today and we stop to visit the ruined Silk Road city of Kunye Urgench, which was spared by Genghis Khan during his ruthless invasion. Highlights of the well-preserved settlement include the towering Kutlug-Timur Minaret, which is the highest minaret in Central Asia. Tonight, we camp in the desert close to the city.
Overnight: Kunye Urgench | Breakfast, Lunch
Kunye Urgench - Khiva (Uzbekistan). On day 23 we browse the market in the border town of Dashoguz before crossing into Uzbekistan. We then journey to the ancient city of Khiva, enjoying a guided tour the next day. Take in the well-preserved city walls and other highlights including the giant Kalta Minor Minaret, the blue palace of Tash Khovli and the incredible Juma Mosque. Afterwards, there's free time to explore at leisure.
Overnight: Khiva | Breakfast x 2
Khiva - Bukhara. Day 25 sees us embark on a long drive to the beautiful ancient city of Bukhara. There’s a guided tour on day 26 which takes in the Kalon Mosque, Ark Fortress and the Ismail Samani Mausoleum. We also see the giant Kalyan Minaret, which earned the nickname of "Death Tower" due to its historic use as a place of execution.
On day 27 you have plenty of free time to explore and there’s an optional excursion to the gruesome Zindon Prison, which was once notorious for the Bug Pit - prisoners were held here and lice, rats and scorpions were emptied onto their heads.
Nurata & Kyzylkhum Desert camp
Bukhara - Kyzylkhum Desert (Nurata). Today we venture into the wild Kyzylkhum Desert. There’s an optional camel ride over the rolling sand dunes and we spend the night in a traditional yurt tent near the town of Nurata.
Overnight: Nurata | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Nurata Hills & Samarkand
Kyzylkhum Desert (Nurata) - Samarkand. This morning there’s time to hike in the Nurata Hills and take a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul if you wish. After lunch we drive to the Silk Road city of Samarkand, our home for the next three nights.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast
On day 30 we enjoy a tour of the characterful Silk Road city of Samarkand. Visit sites including the beautiful Registan Square, Ulug Beg Observatory and the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. The mosque was once the jewel in the empire of Timur, the famous warlord who was born in Samarkand. Optional activities on day 31 include a visit to the nearby city of Shakhrisabz.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast x 2
Samarkand - Tashkent. Spend the morning of day 32 at leisure in Samarkand before we drive to the clean and modern Soviet style city of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. The rest of today and tomorrow is free to explore or join optional activities. Perhaps visit the Hast Imam Square to see the world’s oldest copy of the Koran.
Overnight: Tashkent | Breakfast x 2
Today our tour comes to an end - please get in touch with our sales team if you'd like to book any extra nights accommodation in Tashkent.
Is Overlanding Right For Me?
Overlanding is not a style of travel that will suit everyone so please carefully read the Trip Notes before selecting this tour and be realistic about your ability and desire to join such a trip. If you’re the adventurous type who’d rather spend a night wild camping in the wilderness than luxuriating in a boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. You just need the right attitude, an open mind, and a desire to participate fully in the trip.
Overland travelling can be demanding and challenging. On your trip you’ll travel in a purpose-built expedition vehicle on an off-the-beaten-track adventure along rugged roads, sometimes across vast distances and at high altitude. You will find the drive times noted on the Trip Notes.
On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger, these are full participation trips and everyone gets involved and pitches in! You will also be expected to erect your own tent and help with camp chores including cooking meals for the group on a rota basis. Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!
The type, variety and standard of accommodation can vary greatly from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to comfortable hotels with good facilities. Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but some may be triple/quad-share. Hostels and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.
The campsites we use range from basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and a bar. On occasions we wild camp with no facilities, which means there are no toilets - just the vast expanse of the great outdoors and a shovel!
Our overland journeys are designed to offer freedom, and many of our routes have a large degree of flexibility rather than a strict hour-by-hour or even day-by-day itinerary. We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed and it sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling.Read More
Local payment - $1460pp, paid in USD
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.